President's Awards 2009-2010

Funded Projects Background


Title: Massachusetts Green Computing Initiative: Sustainable IT for a Knowledge
Economy PIs/Campus: Rick Adrion and Prashant Shenoy, UMass Amherst

This effort will bring together academic scientists and engineers, industrial researchers and users of computing resources, and local utilities to collaborate on developing the next generation of sustainable information technology (IT) solutions. Research will include a range of energy-aware computing strategies, such as virtualization technologies, cloud computing, advanced power management, green storage and efficient flash disks. The project will leverage existing alliances (such as the Commonwealth IT Initiative and its successor, the Commonwealth Alliance for IT Education) for education and workforce development and will also be closely aligned with the UMass/MIT-led high performance computing initiative in Holyoke, MA.

Title: Effects of Climate on the New England Environment
PIs/Campus: Ray Bradley and Rick Palmer, UMass Amherst
The initiative will focus on developing a UMass-led effort to advance climate science and provide actionable information on regional climate change to a broad range of potential users. Users include both private sector entities (such as utilities, insurance companies, and natural resources-intensive industries like agriculture, maritime services and many manufacturing sectors) and public policymakers in energy, health, natural resources management and other areas. Key activities include
creation of a multi-institutional partnership (multiple academic/research institutions, users, and government), a research program to improve and down-scale climate models, and creation of decision support tools. The effort is consistent with both federal and state priorities and expected funding opportunities.

Title: The Institute for Massachusetts Biofuels Research (TIMBR)
PIs/Campus: Danny Schnell, Susan Leschine and Michael Henson, UMass Amherst
The objectives of the project are to further develop TIMBR's biofuels research program, expand private sector partnerships, establish teaching and training programs for workforce development and support the biofuels industry through industry, market and organizational research. Funds will be used to support development of multi-institutional research proposals to federal and state sponsors, manage a broad-ranging outreach and industrial partnership program (including an industry advisory board, annual conferences, and a collaborative and industry-sponsored research program). TIMBR expects to be well-positioned to provide UMass leadership in development and pursuit of a regional energy innovation strategy.

Title: Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy
PI/Campus: Andrew Grosovsky, UMass Boston
Funds would be used to help launch the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy (CPCT), a joint effort with Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HACC). The focus of the center is to develop and make broadly available clinical diagnostic tools to identify specific cancer subtypes in patients and enable physicians to tailor personalized therapies. The first phase of the center's growth will create a core monoclonal antibody facility for biomarker development. The center will stimulate faculty recruitment at UMass Boston (center director will also hold an appointment at DF/HCC), provide research and training opportunities for students, and leverage research growth.

Title: Interdisciplinary Center in Drug Resistance
PI/Campus: Celia Schiffer, UMass Worcester
Partner: UMass Amherst
The proposal outlines a unique effort to establish an interdisciplinary research program in drug resistance. Unlike traditional drug design and development strategies that focus narrowly on disrupting the function of therapeutic targets without regard for other impacts, often leading to new drugs becoming obsolete soon after introduction, this program focuses on minimizing resistance as a design criteria. Work will focus specifically on rapidly evolving diseases, and the center would
interface the Medical School's developing translational science program, specifically the Advanced Therapeutic Cluster's RNAi Therapeutics program.


Title: "Youth and Shakespeare:  Reconstructing the Connection."  
Principal Investigators: Arthur Kinney, Director, Renaissance Center, UMass Amherst

"Youth and Shakespeare: Reconstructing the Connection" is a five-week intensive summer school program for eighth- and ninth-grade students, the majority of whom are either English Language Learners or minorities in underserved areas of Springfield and Holyoke. The students learn how to work with Shakespearean text and acting techniques in the course of rehearsing sonnets and scenes for performance before their peers and for selected other audiences. A pilot program was successfully launched last summer in Holyoke; this coming summer it will be repeated in Holyoke and will expand into the Renaissance School in Springfield, with plans for further expansion in Springfield in the coming years.

Title: "Place Attachment and Entrepreneurship in the Massachusetts Economy."  
Principal Investigators: Henry Renski, Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, UMass Amherst

The proposed project will investigate how investments in the arts, cultural assets, and other place-based assets influence the start-up and location choices of entrepreneurs in the knowledge economy. Entrepreneurs are among the "super-creative" class of highly talented individuals that drive growth in the contemporary economy. Because talent is a highly sought-after, yet relatively scarce, resource, innovative businesses are increasingly choosing locations that enable them to attract and retain talent. The super-creative class, in turn, prefers to live and work in places that are rich in arts and cultural opportunities. Yet, entrepreneurs differ from other elements of the super-creative class in that the decision to start a new business is often influenced by their strong desire to remain in place. Therefore, a key issue in building a favorable entrepreneurial climate is to understand what types of regional assets encourage nascent entrepreneurs to start their businesses in place, rather than move in search of paid employment elsewhere.

Title: "Electronic Gaming in Massachusetts:  Baseline Study and Industry Analysis."  
Principal Investigators:  Pacey Foster, Management, and David Terkla, Economics, UMass Boston
Electronic gaming represents a $9 billion global industry that has experienced rapid growth over the last few years.  Between 2006 and 2007 total revenues in the electronic gaming industry increased 28% compared with negative growth in the music industry and a modest 1.8% growth in motion pictures.  In Massachusetts, these growth trends are reflected in the fact that local companies have continued to add jobs and raise significant venture capital investments while other companies like Harmonix, Turbina, Inc. and 2K Boston have turned industry heads and generated speculation that Boston could become a hub of future production in this rapidly growing industry.  Yet, despite the belief that electronic gaming represents a rapidly growing sector in the local creative economy, relatively little is known about how big the Massachusetts video game industry is, how (and how fast) it has grown, how it is organized and what resources it needs to continue growing.  This research will conduct a baseline study of the Massachusetts electronic gaming industry to investigate these issues.

Title: "Developing Green Jobs and Career Paths."  (This is a three-campus proposal, with each campus receiving funding.)
Principal Investigators: Joan Becker, Academic Support Services, and others, UMass Boston

Under this three-campus collaborative project, which lies at the boundary of the "science and technology" and "creative economy" definitions, UMass Boston's sustainability program-UMBe Green-and UMB's Academic Support Services have been focused on basic capacity building that is missing in the K-12 and pre-collegiate communities in order to keep pace with both the academic environmental collegiate offerings at the graduate and undergraduate levels, but also the sweeping changes ushering in the green technology industrial and jobs sectors.  Students in pre-collegiate programs from Boston area schools are involved in fundamental environmental concepts and year-round programming that range from basic principles and the role of science to global warming, alternative energy and sustainability to site visits at a variety of community and industrial initiatives.

Title: "The Massachusetts Midwifery Workforce Profile Project"
Principal Investigator: Christa Kelleher, Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMass Boston

As a growing component of the healthcare workforce in Massachusetts, community and hospital-based midwives provide care to women across the life course with a particular focus on women's reproductive health. While midwives increasingly play a key, yet often unacknowledged, role in delivering care to Massachusetts women and families, there is presently no systematic state-level data collection on the demographics, education and training experiences, work environments, insurance arrangements, employment patterns, and practice models of these healthcare practitioners. There are also few demographic data available about the types of populations served by midwives and the scope of care provided.  This interdisciplinary, survey-based study, which expands the concept of the "creative economy" to include analysis of a unique labor market, seeks to remedy this documented knowledge gap by providing a profile of the midwifery workforce to Massachusetts legislators and agency officials, health industry leaders and providers, and other key stakeholders who are currently grappling with a number of pressing healthcare policy challenges.

Title: "Weaving the Rainbow:  Pathways to the Sciences."
Principal Investigator: Grant O'Reilly, Physics Dept., UMass Dartmouth

The Physics Department at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the University Observatory, working with the Ocean Explorium in New Bedford, will launch a series of astronomy-themed events that will engage the citizens of the SouthCoast region and result in a long-term collaboration between the Ocean Explorium and the Physics Department.  This program will introduce the Ocean Explorium and University Observatory to the SouthCoast community; provide opportunities for the public to learn about the sky and the stars; enable the public to further explore astronomy through guided observations and other activities; showcase educational opportunities and research activities at UMass Dartmouth, and encourage young learners to pursue educational and career choices in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Title: "Developing Green Jobs and Career Paths."  (This is a three-campus proposal, with each campus receiving funding.)
Principal Investigators: Robert Peck, Dean of Engineering, and others, UMass Dartmouth

Under this three-campus collaborative project, which lies at the boundary of the "science and technology" and "creative economy" definitions, and building on its earlier successful collaborations with the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board, Bristol Community College, and local employers, labor unions, and community groups, the UMass Dartmouth Office of Campus and Community Sustainability is developing a Green Certification Training 'Pipeline' that will provide a coordinated set of trainings in green jobs from high school through post-baccalaureate offerings.   With a current focus on energy efficiency training, UMD is currently a partner on two energy-related grant proposals totaling a potential $1.3 million and is the lead partner in a consortium responding to the energy efficiency skills training RFR put out by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Council.   The goals of these efforts include positioning UMass Dartmouth and the University of Massachusetts System on the upper-end of a coordinated energy career 'pipeline'.

Title: "Readings with Paintings on Movable Walls." 
Principal Investigator: Robert Forrant, Dept. of Regional Economic and Social Development, UMass Lowell

This proposed project joins together faculty and students from UMass Lowell's Department of Regional Economic and Social Development and Art Department with the Teen Arts group at one of Lowell's most important arts institutions, the Revolving Museum (RM), and with the city of Lowell's cultural arm, the Cultural Organization of Lowell (COOL).  An earlier collaboration of these institutions, with support from the first year of the President's Creative Economy Initiatives Fund, developed the first annual downtown Lowell Film Festival.  The second year of the film festival, held in April 2009 with significant financial support from the Massachusetts Humanities Council, brought over 1000 people to downtown Lowell. A preliminary analysis of attendees at the event indicates that a significant number came from outside greater Lowell and that many of them ate at a downtown restaurant and plan to return to the city for other cultural events. This festival has taken on a life of its own in Lowell's downtown and planning is already under way for next spring's effort.  

With this new proposal, the cooperating institutions intend to establish an annual fall counterpart to the film festival, which will embrace and celebrates Lowell's, and the region's, history of immigration and ethnic diversity. The partners will create a series of five murals depicting this rich history and host a series of dramatic readings based on the letters and collected stories of immigrants from the arrival of the Irish in the early nineteenth century through recent arrivals from Ghana, Kenya, Burma, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.  The project also builds on an earlier public mural movement in Lowell, dating from the 1970s, when a series of murals was produced on the walls of numerous downtown buildings.

Title: "Lowell Youth Orchestra and New Concert Series."
Principal Investigator:  Kay George Roberts, Department of Music, UMass Lowell

This project is a partnership between UMass Lowell music students, the UML String Project, the Lowell Youth Orchestra (LYO), the New England Orchestra (NEO) and Eliot Church to create a bridge between the UML campus and the Lowell community.    Lowell is one of the most economically challenged cities in Massachusetts and its most diverse - 59% of the public school students are minority and 65% of the students receive free or reduced lunch waivers. Lowell has the second largest Cambodian population in the U.S.  Due to the economic demographics in Lowell, the Lowell public schools have never had a system-wide string program.  To change this, Professor Roberts, the newly named Nancy Donahue Professor in the Arts, founded the Lowell String Project in 2001, a collaborative after-school program on UMass Lowell's campus that provides in-depth string training - violin, viola and cello - to students from the Lowell Public Schools. The students are taught by a Master Teacher and UML music students, who get hands-on teaching experience. The UML String Project provides a nurturing, supportive, creative and educational environment where youth of diverse backgrounds learn to interact, exchange ideas and make music together. Many of the String Project students are minority or at-risk youth living below the poverty line.

The Lowell Youth Orchestra (LYO) will build on the success of the UML String Project, providing an outlet for young musicians interested in acquiring ensemble and performance experience. The LYO will become a training program for high school student musicians in the greater Lowell area and a recruitment tool for UMASS Lowell. Together with the UML String Project, it is an engine for developing and nurturing talent at all levels. The LYO plans to include young musicians from surrounding school districts in the Greater Lowell/Merrimack Valley area, thus expanding the cultural dialogue with other communities.

Title: "Developing Green Jobs and Career Paths."  (This is a three-campus proposal, with each campus receiving funding.)
Principal Investigators: David Turcotte, Center for Family, Work and Community, and others, UMass Lowell
Under this three-campus collaborative project, which lies at the boundary of the "science and technology" and "creative economy" definitions, UML has been focusing on the Clean Energy cluster, including renewable sources of energy; conservation; energy efficiency; energy audits; consulting, and research on energy technology. Work to date has included coordination with the Renewable Energy Trust (RET), the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), the newly created Clean Energy Center, and the New England Clean Energy Council (NCEC).  The proposed project will build upon UML work done to date and the Clean Energy Workforce Development Forum to develop suggested career ladders and associated education and training for various aspects of the clean energy sector. It will also incorporate experiences and lessons learned from UMD's efforts to establish a Green Certification 'pipeline'.